Wait, we’re not supposed to keep zombies as pets? Make up your mind and get back to me, pronto. because, uh, they’re gnawing on the curtains…

The Walking Dead was excellent on Sunday night and if you spent time sleeping instead of watching “Chupacabra” then you really need to fix those priorities of yours – snap snap!

The episode started out with a flashback. You could tell because Shane had hair, and there were more people alive.  Aside from giving us insight into what the early days after the Walkers were like, this flashback did a lot to earn compassion for Shane. After he sacrificed Otis, and we were reminded he told Lori and Carl that Rick was dead – it’s been hard to find him likeable. But this flashback eloquently illustrated how long Shane has been along with Lori and Carl, protecting them. When he saw the city being napalmed, it certainly would have seemed like the best version of “truth” to lie and say that Rick was already dead. Even before seeing that destruction, if they thought Rick was alive they never would have left. And even if Shane does have a crush on Lori, it’s not only a crush.

Hearing a character finally speak up on how Rick was the leader and Lori was the unofficial first lady was nice, because that’s what we’ve all always thought, right?

Shane and Rick talked about nostalgia as a drug, which takes you out of the present reality. If I was living in their version of reality, I’d probably be pretty heavy on the nostalgia, too. As it is, I already am. Vintage photographs are like my crack.

But Shane and Rick didn’t just talk about past loves, they talked about Sophia. Poor, lost Sophia. She’s gotta be dead, right? Or is it so predictable that she’d be dead that she’ll turn up alive? At this point, finding her alive would be the more shocking storytelling choice. (What if she’s turned into a walker and has been locked up in that barn?!) Shane made the argument for why they should give up the ongoing search, and that it was doing more harm than good. And his point is valid (especially when we saw Daryl get injured.) But Rick pulls us to his side, explaining that if it was Carl he wouldn’t stop looking, and he made Sophia trust him. It’s personal for him.

The most interesting part of this conversation is a response that Lori has later. After she all but agrees that they should stop searching for Sophia, she says that Shane isn’t making the tough decision. Rather, she feels that Rick is making the tough decision to keep trying when everyone wants him to stop.

Daryl has been very pro find-Sophia, but in this episode he really ended up in trouble after a snake spooked the horse he was on. He got impaled with his own arrow (his only arrow) and fell down a large cliff. Oh, and there were walkers after him. It was pretty dire. But he found Sophia’s doll. And he brought that doll with him. You can see this two ways. Daryl almost killed himself and all he found was a doll, or he brought back the first real sign that Sophia is still out there.

Daryl managed to knock himself unconscious, and he began hallucinating. Who did he see? His brother, Merle. This is so juicy to talk about, ah! Okay, let me calm down. See, I think this entire part of the episode was really interesting. Daryl and Merle had a complicated relationship. But Daryl still has to process his feelings of guilt and grief – and he hasn’t really done that (because you probably never stop.) Daryl was in bad shape, and he – in the form of Merle – became his own worst enemy. Daryl could picture all sorts of things that Merle would say, and they were probably the negative feelings Daryl was starting to have. What sort of stuff? That no one cared about him, that he left his brother to die, that he was risking his life for strangers and was being dumb, etc. But, Merle didn’t just bag on Daryl. He was also a motivational force.

Daryl needed Merle to taunt him so he would force himself to get up and save himself. In this way, Merle helped him. Daryl wanted to prove Merle wrong. So, Merle manifested as Daryl’s own worst enemy, but also as the inspiration to keep going. Pretty damn complicated, huh? And yet, when I get angry I also feel motivated. So, psychologically, it’s a very sound approach! (I feel like a pro at waxing at theories on hallucinations after my recent Dexter “Nebraska” Review. Man, everyone’s dead brothers are resurfacing!)

Daryl and his necklace of ears returned, looking like a Walker. I already hate Andrea so much, and the show did nothing to make her more likeable as she defied everyone and shot at Daryl (thinking he was a walker, even after being told not to take the shot.) Turns out she wasn’t even a good shot, which is good for Daryl. Things that Andrea does make sense to me, but I still dislike her. She wanted to kill herself because she’d lost hope – I can understand that. She’s sick of being with the women and wants to be proactive about learning to use a gun – I can understand that. But I hate her. I really, really hate her. She’s so stubborn and annoying and self-loathing. Instead of thinking that she’s a heroine who doesn’t respect authority, I find her to be selfish and weak. Speaking of selfish characters…

Hershel has been weird, and I haven’t been able to pinpoint why he was so intent on keeping his people isolated from everyone else. But now we know why. This innocent group of farmers has a collection of “alive” walkers in the barn. Uh, got any theories on that? There’s basically two reasons I can think of: these are the relatives that these people knew and they’re hoping for a cure (or just can’t bear to kill them), or these are just strangers and they’re hoping for a cure to save them. Why else would you keep such a danger so close to you? After all of Hershel’s crap about being careful, he really needs to stuff a sock in it. He should have warned Rick what was going on there.

The Walking Dead Quotes:

“People in hell want slurpees.” – Daryl

“All the people in our stories are dead.” – Shane

“If I knew the world was ending I would have brought better books.”

Grade: A+

Rewatch: Hell yes

React: How do you feel about Andrea? Why do you think all those walkers are locked up in the barn? Share your theories!

The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC.